The Leaside Business Park will be taken over by big box stores and “mixed use” and the industries currently located there will move out any day. True or False? False, for two reasons.
First, the big box stores are situated on properties fronting on the east side of Laird but are not allowed in the “core” of the Park, and certain lands fronting on Eglinton north of the Park were redesignated to mixed use in 2014; remaining lands are designated “Employment Lands”. Second, industries in the Park are working together to maintain its industrial character. A recent example of both planning laws and business cooperation factors at work is an application for minor variances to permit construction of a total of 13 “industrial condominium units” in two blocks in an area zoned for “General Industrial” use. The application for 43 Industrial Street was refused by the North York Committee of Adjustment (CoA) following strong objections by the Leaside Business Park Association (LBPA) at the hearing on November 21, 2017. The CoA ruled that “the variances requested are not minor in nature, are not desirable for the appropriate development and use of the subject property and do not maintain the general intent and purpose of the zoning bylaw and the Official Plan.” However,
the applicant appealed to the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB) and the hearing is scheduled for May 8, 2018.
The LBPA believes that the proposed business is incompatible with the neighbouring heavy industries such as Kreitmaker (concrete), St Mary’s Cement (concrete), APCO Industries (chemicals), and Unicell (truck bodies). These particular neighbouring companies are concerned that the applicant’s proposal will pose a threat to their continuing ability to conduct business. As well, they argue that the City has invested heavily in infrastructure to promote industrial use within the Leaside Business Park. Allowing uses within the Park that make no use of this infrastructure is inefficient at best. Worse still is the introduction of sensitive or incompatible uses that would force incumbent industries that rely on such infrastructure to abandon their operations – and more than likely the City – altogether.
The applicant’s proposal is described as “industrial condominiums,” but is it really? The design, the request for standalone office use, and their list of potential tenants suggest a commercial/retail facility, which would be an introduction of a sensitive land use. In addition, the buildings, as designed with their high ceilings, balconies, and private garages could be put to residential use without a single alteration. The development even appears to be marketed as such, despite being plopped squarely in the middle of an industrial park. (The street sign at 43 Industrial Street presently advertising the property to potential tenants trumpets “private garages, 12-23 ft. high ceilings, [and] rooftop terraces.”)
As Kendall Fullerton, president, LBPA, says, “Pressures from developers to appropriate lands within the business park for residential or commercial use are constant. If the industrial park is to remain a stable place for the incumbent industries within the park to operate, as intended in the Official Plan, vigilance against such encroachment must be maintained.”